No Country Is Facing The Kind Of Grave Threat That India Is, Says Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa

| September 12 , 2018 , 12:29 IST

Amidst controversies over the Rafale fighter jet deal prices, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa on Wednesday emphasised how crucial it was to procure the fighter jets, considering the threats from Pakistan and China and the Indian Air Force's current squadron strength of only 31 from the 42 sanctioned strength.

“No country is facing the kind of grave threat that India is confronted with. Intentions of our adversaries can change overnight. We need to match force level of our adversaries,” said Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa.

"What we do not have are the numbers, against a sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons, we are down to 31. Even when we do have 42 squadrons, we will be below the combined numbers of two of our regional adversaries," he said.

"Pakistan has over 20 fighter squadrons, with upgraded F-16s, and inducting J-17 from China in large numbers. China has 1,700 fighters, including 800 4-Gen fighters," said the Air Force Chief.

"By providing the Rafale and S-400, the government is strengthening the Indian Air Force to counter the short falls of our depleting numbers," he said.

"The high-tech fighters like Rafale are needed because medium-tech fighters like Tejas alone cannot do. IAF is investing heavily in Tejas, looking at 12 squadrons of Tejas Mark-2 after first 123 Mark-1A jets," said Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa.  

He further said that India's neighbours are also "not sitting idle" and are rapidly modernising their own respective air forces and so the Indian Air Force "needs to match their force level," he said.

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Last year in June, when Army Chief General Bipin Rawat stated that India is ready for a 2.5 front war, with Pakistan, China and internally, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa has said that the Indian Air Force is not ready for a 2-front conflict due to a shortfall in the number of fighter squadrons. Dhanoa compared the situation to a cricket team playing with 7 players instead of 11.

Dhanoa added that while the IAF is not ready for a 2-front confrontation, it is ready to use air power against Pakistan in response to any adverse event, the decision of which is the call of the government.